electrical bike A Blueway for Oak Ridge
Two Oak Ridge-based organizations, Advocates for the Oak Ridge Reservation (AFORR) and Tennessee Residents for Wilderness Planning (TCWP), with a mixed historical past of over 70 years of consideration to the pure sources of Oak Ridge, want to share a imaginative and prescient for our metropolis’s pure property.
Our imaginative and prescient stems from the 2019 Metropolis Blueprint, a dwelling plan meant to information neighborhood development and growth in Oak Ridge. The Blueprint concerned in depth citizen participation and displays our residents’ precedence on pure property. Following from the Blueprint, a Pure Belongings Guidebook was not too long ago supplied to the town.
Oak Ridge is certainly a “Secret Metropolis” and an unusually vibrant small city. Not solely will we host a world-class science facility (and Tennessee’s single largest employer) however, not like different cities of our measurement, we characteristic many facilities starting from a wonderful faculty system to a neighborhood symphony and an energetic efficiency theater. We additionally get pleasure from advantages of quite a few neighborhood occasions, festivals, live shows and different actions normally discovered solely in bigger communities, in addition to a number of museums and, now, the Manhattan Venture Nationwide Historic Park.
Nevertheless, what really units Oak Ridge aside is the wealth of pure alternatives that exist right here. Maybe our greatest secret is that we really are an “Outside Metropolis.” On account of the town’s distinctive historical past, we’re surrounded by an abundance of inexperienced house that may be a legacy of the Manhattan Venture. Greenness units Oak Ridge aside from the haphazardly divided and developed landscapes of the area’s city areas. Along with the in depth open house inside the metropolis, 30,000 acres of federal land borders the Clinch River. The Clinch River hall has vital scenic worth, helps excessive pure biodiversity and provides myriad alternatives to contribute to the well being and well-being of our residents and to make Oak Ridge a fascinating place to dwell. What different cities supply such in depth climbing, rowing, paddling, boating, mountain biking, highway biking, snowboarding, fishing, searching, swimming and birding alternatives — all inside metropolis boundaries?
We agree wholeheartedly that our pure property shouldn’t stay a secret. We hereby encourage the neighborhood to acknowledge and improve an “Oak Ridge Blueway” from Melton Lake Park to Melton Hill Dam, with Clark Middle Park as a key entry level. The 26-plus miles of the Clinch River cradles our most under-recognized pure asset: a blueway. The Blueway may present better alternatives for residents and guests to understand the huge tracts of forested land bordering the Clinch River, whereas sustaining its treasured pure attributes. Oak Ridge already has energetic fishing and rowing communities, however we even have the potential to simply join the marina space, Haw Ridge, Solway Park, Clark Middle Park and the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Melton Hill Dam with a real destination-type attraction: journey paddling. On condition that Oak Ridge already has extra devoted bike path mileage than Knoxville and surrounding cities, significantly with the distinctive mountain bike amenities at Haw Ridge, it is sensible to diversify our out of doors choices.
We suggest to reinforce the Oak Ridge Blueway whereas conserving and defending the pure landscapes that preserve the great water high quality, shoreline surroundings and wildlife habitat loved by all.
Clark Middle Park is a key a part of our imaginative and prescient for a Blueway. This devoted public recreation website is positioned on the inlet between Freels Bend and Gallaher Bend and has for many years been a well-liked lakefront website for boating, fishing, picnicking, swimming and different leisure actions. A Blueway may use river entry places to service paddlers, for instance, to hire or return kayaks and canoes, and Clark Middle Park is a key entry location between Solway Park and Melton Hill Dam. The U.S. Division of Vitality (DOE) has owned and operated this park for a few years and want to switch it to a different entity that might preserve it for public use, however thus far native governments have been reluctant to just accept it as a result of prices and liabilities. We see the everlasting safety of the Three Bend Space and a renaissance of Clark Middle Park as two key components of the Oak Ridge Blueway.
Clark Middle Park needs to be remodeled right into a public vacation spot park with a singular concentrate on the waterfront and its different pure environment. Elimination of the ballfields and different infrastructure remaining from the park’s early years as a recreation middle will cut back prices and liabilities. Retaining boating and fishing alternatives whereas making additional enhancements, together with addition of kayak and canoe rental and shuttle concessions, would full the imaginative and prescient of the Oak Ridge Blueway. This Blueway would run by the unfragmented forests and excessive biodiversity of the DOE Reservation. The conservation significance of those forested areas has lengthy been acknowledged and documented by DOE, state businesses and nationwide conservation teams. The Three Bend Space is a 3000-acre tract of specific worth the place the Clinch River meanders by three massive river bends which might be wealthy in historical past, wildlife, habitat range and pure magnificence. In June 1999, the Secretary of Vitality designated the Three Bend Scenic and Wildlife Administration Refuge Space to be managed for preservation functions as a part of an initiative to guard ecologically beneficial lands on DOE websites throughout the nation. The Three Bends, together with Solway Bend, Freels Bend and Gallaher Bend, are managed for DOE by the Tennessee Wildlife Assets Company. The general public has restricted entry to those areas for searching, climbing and bicycling on the general public greenway path on Gallaher Bend, and for particular guided walks and visits.
The Blueway is a chance to expertise this scenic space with out further infrastructure that might spoil sources that the Three Bend Space protects. Our organizations are enthusiastic concerning the potential to remodel Clark Middle Park and understand the imaginative and prescient for the Oak Ridge Blueway. Think about an prolonged, all-day, household paddling alternative that features the pure magnificence and wildlife of this unspoiled space. Or a day of household enjoyable that features swimming, climbing, fishing, and paddling alternatives, guided by a Nationwide Park ranger. We’re desirous to work with authorities businesses in any respect ranges, leisure retailers, and different organizations to make our Blueway imaginative and prescient a actuality.
TCWP and AFORR are two conservation organizations based mostly in Oak Ridge.